Medical School Financial ChitChat

Hello all! I’m been scarce around here since I got my acceptance for the Class of 2018. I’ve been taking sort of a nice break from the pre-med hustle. lol. I’m still in classes, but boy the pressure is off and I’m trying to just enjoy “normal” life a little. That being said…

I am also gearing up for med school and thinking ahead. I’m going to a local school, but I am considering moving my daughter and myself closer to school and closer to my parent’s who will be able to help out a lot. My ex is in the picture, but well, it’s complicated as things are and I feel more comfortable moving close to the folks. Of course, this will require more $ as places closer to school that can accommodate the needs of a mother in her 30s w/ a five year old who will be starting kindergarten when I start med school are just more expensive.

I will be filling out the FAFSA as soon as I can and submitting my other financial aid application requirements to my school very early in the new year, but I know I probably won’t even know what my financial aid package will look like until April-May maybe. So, how the heck do I plan??? I have all the stuff from my school on what can and cannot be considered living expenses, etc, and what the basic cost of attendance is for a year, but w/o knowing what kind of aid I’ll be getting I feel like I’m in a bind.

How did any of you med schoolers square this away early on if you did? I am a major planner so not knowing what August will bring me makes me a bit uneasy. If I could, I’d move in w/ mom and dad but that place would get awfully crowded fast. My five year old takes up about as much space as 2-3 adults. lol. I’m going to have downsize her! So, I’m not sure how to plan here. I am very fortunate not to be moving across the country or anything, but I still just am feeling sort of financially clueless, too, which is unlike me. This medical school financial planning is just a whole new ball game, isn’t it? With a child and not in a roommate (out of the question to find one also) or significant other situation it makes my living expenses probably a lot more than most traditional and also nontraditional but married/attached med students.

Can anyone relate?

I’m partially posting to distract myself from studying for finals because I’m feeling a bit unmotivated. I know that financial advice is super individualized so I know not many of us here can really comment on the experience or needs of others, but thought I’d throw out my frustrations with feeling in the dark right now on the financial front. With my undergrad studies I have known what to expect from semester to semester, but with med school I just don’t know!


Ok, whatever the financial aid looks like (and for most of us it’s just loans) what you’ll get will equal what they calculate for your cost of attendance:tuition + books + cost of living. That is calculated based on ONE person, the student. So you look at their allotment for housing, and if you can, you find something for LESS than that so you have that much flexibility in the other expenses. But the financial aid office at you school can help you also file a form detailing other allowable expenses in addition to what they calculate as average expenses. Pretty sure that your daughter’s school/day care expenses are in there. That will raise the ceiling on your financial aid. For me, I could document cost of health insurance and medical not covered by insurance was way higher than that budgeted, so I got a financial aid adjustment(allowing me to borrow a little more, still with the federal student loans). To get any more help than that one needs private loans which you REALLY want to avoid. Any scholarship money you may get MAY be in addition to your budgeted loans but not always. I’d go in person to the financial aid office and find your what you will be working with. THen, downsize. You may need to put some of your daughter’s and your stuff in storage (or in your moms garage/attic) or sell it, but condencing your household to minimal stuff will make it easier to cope with housekeeping during med school and keep you more moble, and able to look for smaller “digs”. I DO think it’s a good idea to be closer to school (because that’s more study time for YOU) and closer to your folks (more support). Sorry no great news here.

Remember that whatever you borrow for school that is federal does not have to start being paid back till 6 months after graduation, when you will be in a residency and being paid, and that you can at that time file for “income-based repayment” so the portion which is going to your loans still leaves you with enough to live on.

Hope that helps a little.


Thanks, Kate. That helps. I do have the basic work up from the financial aid dept at my school on what can and cannot be included. It appears they allot about $700 per month for housing and utilities which just isn’t enough. Maybe for a young student with 2 or 3 roommates or something that could fly. It’s pretty impossible to even find a decent one bedroom close to school for that (not including utilities), but I need two bedrooms and my “roommate” is five years old and not contributing to rent! So, for me to find something that is lower than what my school’s standard budget outlines probably won’t happen. I have something written down on my notes from interview day that says “max. living expenses $1200/month” so what I meant by that is anyone’s guess except that it must have been mentioned for me to have put that down! But does that mean “living expenses” for just rent/utilities or is that including food/household/clothing expenses, too? I don’t recall. What can I say, it was interview day! So, I’ll have to get clarification from fin. aid, but I’ll wait until I have my FAFSA submitted, etc.

I may be able to make a case for additional $ for rent/utilities that I can take up w/ them if need be. Of course, I’d rather avoid taking more, but what has to be done has to be done. I knew this journey wasn’t going to be cheap or easy on any level. I do know childcare can be included, but my girl will be in school and with help around me I don’t think I’ll have any or at least not much in the way of daycare.

I have one thing going for me, though, and that is that I am extremely frugal and know when and where to skimp and how to get the most for my money. Being a nontrad student with some years in the real world will certainly put me at an advantage in the money managing arena during medical school. But, let’s face it, these will be lean years for sure, but I while I am okay with that, I also have to provide a decent place in a decent school district in a safe area that is close to family in the interests of my daughter. So, I may have to “find” more money to make that happen. I am actually very ready to downsize, too, so that will help cut down on living space and certainly give me less headaches with less things to take care of as you said.

I do want to avoid private loans at all costs, too, so I will do my best to make sure that I don’t go that route. I think I will certainly be eligible for some financial need based institutional aid also, but like you said, whether that is in addition to my loans or is just meant to replace part of the loans with “free” money is yet to be determined. I know, at least at my school, that scholarships and the like aren’t really very prevalent. There are some smaller amounts available and I think more becomes available as you progress in school, but it’s still not great. It’s a debt creating game for sure no matter who you are, how fabulously smart you are, or where you come from. So it goes.

Thanks for the advice, Kate!

Hopefully it’ll all fall into place w/o too many headaches!

Most of it depends on what sort of package your school puts together.

You’ll likely be taking out the full Stafford (~42k) and then take out gradPlus to whatever the calculated cost of attendance is. Depending on what what your school awards (grants, perkins etc) the amount of gradPlus may vary. I didn’t do it but I believe there is some wiggle room with CoA calculations. As mentioned above, you want to say with federal loan programs pretty much. Luckily they are not ungenerous with giving med students loans! Getting money usually isn’t going to the problem, it is the paying back that’s the issue!

There are also all sort of loan forgiveness programs later on down the road to consider but that’s a whole over story.

Most medical school financial aid departments are pretty decent in my experience so hopefully they can just answer all your questions in the new year.

Thanks, dnelsen. (Hope your transition into your linkage program went well btw)

Yes, it appears there will be money for med school but yes, the paying back part is the eventual issue. I have already looked at what the future may hold with loan forgiveness programs as well, but that IS a whole other story as you say. Plus, who knows what will be there for loan forgiveness in the next decade for example? Speculation. Not to mention I don’t know what specialty I’ll end up in so that could change things as well both in means to pay back and in terms of forgiveness programs. But, no, I can’t put the cart before the horse…

So, I’m sure I’ll be taking the full Stafford for sure. My tuition is on the high side at a private institution. I also get a small in state “discount” even though it’s a private school, but it’s still going to be higher than most state schools by far. Though, in the end, medical school is alot of $ no matter if it’s a public or private school. It just is the way it is.

I’ll have a better idea of things as the new year begins and my school seems to have a pretty helpful finaid dept. so I know they’ll help me navigate this as well.

We’ll see what happens…


I can relate. I don’t have children but have always had others who have depended on me(part of the reason I didn’t go to med school in my 20’s). I’m coming from 14 years as a teacher so I’m not sure how I’m going to handle the financial aspect. I have dogs otherwise I would likely live in the student housing which is cheap to me at $530 for 1 bedroom. I will have to figure out something else.

I laughed that you were accepted on the 13th. LSU made its decisions for us on 12/13. I received the acceptance letter though on the 20th.